This was so even though little then was as confrontational as Full Frontal or Last Week Tonight. The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times and the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather was enough to make them upset. And yet, or maybe in reaction, they patronized people far more smug and vitriolic than anything the MSM broadcast.
Was any longtime political commentator more smug than Bill O’Reilly, king of TV conservatives starting in 1996? Who more fully embodies the ethos, “our opponents are corrupt, evil, and stupid, while we are obviously correct,” than Rush Limbaugh?
Later, Andrew Breitbart’s contempt for a left that he regarded as “totalitarian” was channeled through a posture that aptly became the title of his book: Righteous Indignation.
Or consider Ann Coulter, who has reemerged as a voice that young conservatives on college campuses are intentionally associating themselves with. Prior to her most recent book, Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, she authored bestsellers including, Never Trust a Liberal Over 3; the un-subtlely demonizing Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America; If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; and How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).
Sean Hannity titles include “Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism” and “Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism.”
Neither Erick Erickson (who has apologized for the vitriol that characterized his early punditry) nor Sarah Palin are “post-Christian.” But both rose to prominence on the right––including the most Christian corners of the conservative movement––spewing disdain and vitriol as potent as any comedic entertainer on late night cable. If Palin has ever spoken in favor of loving one’s cultural enemies I have missed it.
Finally, here’s a moment from Mark Levin’s radio show that I transcribed in 2009 as a time capsule:
CALLER: I just wanna say, Obama is a lot smarter than you folks give him credit for. You guys were on a roll, I have to admit, with all those tea parties. Everything was rolling along, the Republicans were gaining momentum. And he managed to change your entire conversational focus.
Levin: My God. He’s so smart. His own party voted against him on Guantanamo Bay. How stupid was that, Cindy? His own party refused to fund the closing of Guantanamo Bay.
CALLER. Yeah but you know he can just move those people over here anyway. He’s already doing it with the one guy.
Levin: Yeah, sure, he can do whatever he wants. Let me ask you a question. Why do you hate this country?
CALLER: No, I love this country.
Levin: (angrily shouting) I SAID WHY DO YOU HATE MY COUNTRY! WHY DO YOU HATE MY CONSTITUTION? WHY DO YOU HATE MY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE? You just said it. He can blow off Congress. He can do whatever he wants, right?
CALLER: Well, he seems to, he just moved (inaudible).
Levin: Answer me this, are you a married woman? Yes or no?
Levin: Well I don’t know why your husband doesn’t put a gun to his temple. Get the hell out of here.
None of this is to excuse the smug style of liberalism.